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Capability and Conduct : managing performance issues the right way

When employees have performance issues at work, this can often be broken down into matters of Capability or Conduct. Both require different management and it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between the two.

 

What is a Conduct Issue?

Conduct is how an employee chooses to act at work, their behaviour. This is often described as an employee that “won’t do”. The employee has the capacity and potential to be a positive and valuable member of the team, but for whatever reason, is choosing not to. An example of a conduct issue would be a receptionist who is being rude to patients or ignoring the phone when it is ringing.

Conduct issues are usually dealt with quickly through your Practice's Disciplinary Policy. Due to conduct being a personal choice and being completely within the control of the employee, dealing with conduct is usually straightforward.

 

What is a Capability Issue?

Capability issues are less frequent and are often described as “can’t do”. Sometimes an employee might struggle to pick up the skills to be successful in a role or suffer from ill health so frequently that they cannot complete their role with any success.

Capability can be very difficult for managers to deal with as often the employee will be doing everything they can to improve, but still falling short of what is acceptable for the role. For that reason, a softer and more supportive approach is required, with structured performance improvement plans that provide the employee with every possible chance to get to where they need to be. Many managers may know this process as “Performance Management”.

Deciding Between the two…

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide on whether you are dealing with Capability or Conduct and it’s not always clear cut. Ensuring that you make the right decision is important. One example of where it was not clear cut was in the classic case of Sutton and Gates Ltd Vs Boxall (1978). An electrician was performing poorly to the point where clients would request that he did not attend. The ruling stated, “Cases where a person has not come up to standard through his own carelessness, negligence or maybe idleness are much more appropriately dealt with as cases of conduct or misconduct rather than of capability.”

 

How the Management Procedures are Different

 

Full procedures can be found in the FPM Policies and Procedures Library. If you're an FPM Member and need any help with a Conduct or Capability problem, contact the HR Helpline at hrhelp@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk


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